Saturday, August 13, 2011

Florida Fallen Heroes 5k

Today was the "Florida Fallen Heroes" 5k in Tallahasse. This was a late sign up for the wife and I. We were already planning a trip up here when we found out one of the wife's clan was doing this race. After wengot here, he mentioned that part of the race was trail. I had no ideaand had just assumed it was along the roads in the park.

The race site (Maclay Gardens State Park) is a very pretty (and somewhat hilly) park. The start/finish was at a parking lot near a lake with a nice picnic pavillion. Mrs. L and I met up with her cousin's hubby and after walking down to the start area, registering, and getting our shirts, I loosened up with a little jog up and down the last few hills on the course.

After a moment of silence and presentation of the colors, they had a nice rendition of the national anthem and we headed to the start. The course was a lollipop out from the main parking lot to the trail section loop and then back.

The start was kind of sudden. I think I had already started running purely on instinct before I realized someone had actually said "start". The start was a pretty good hill so I took it easy and settled in with what seemed like my pace group. I was running at a very easy pace, attacking the downhills and relaxing up. That kept me pretty steady in my group. Some would pass me on the ups and I would fly back by on the downs.

We ran out of pavement around 0.75 mi or so and so that's where I lost my trail virginity. Hit the first mile marker and I didn't have a watch so I yelled out to see if anyone had a time. "8 minutes" is what came back so I felt pretty good about that.

Most of the people around me were huffing and puffing so I stepped on the gas a bit for the second mile. This was pretty flat and the trail footing was good. I started reeling people in in spite of the narrow trail. I felt kind of bad passing the ones in fatigues and boots but tried to make up by shouting some attempted encouragement (Good job! Keep it up! I couldn't run in those boots!).

Mile 3 was back through the hilly road section. I had a few folks pass me up here but not knowing how I would do on the hills, I stuck with my strategy and tried to hang in with help from the downs. I knew the finish was a big downhill for probably 200m so I knew I would reel in some more huffers and puffers with my kick. That included a guy I passed while he walked up a hill only to have him pass me on the flat top and a (slightly) older guy who eeked by and put about 30m between us.

I turned the last corner (which happened to be the top of the last hill) and hit he jets. I don't remember the last time I ran that fast. I was hootin' and hollerin' as I passed the folks who had passed me on the hills (out of exertion, not gloating). Hill walker was one of the first and I counted them off and had gray hair (again, just slightly more than me) in my sights and really opened it up. My goal (having nohing to base it on) was 25:00. I edged out gray hair right before the finish (which earned me a "you dog!") and crossed at 24:45 (7:59 pace).

Catching my breath required more "Whooooo!"s and so I apologized to the volunteers and other finishers after I regained my composure. After giving gray hair a fist bump and a "good race" I headed over to turn in my time and grab some water. I got to the finish in time to pull out my phone and get video of Mrs. L and cuz's hubby - so I thought. Ends up phone was set for still pics. Got picture of each at the top of the hill (when I thought I started the video) and the clock after they finished (when I thought I stopped the video).

Wifey PRed big time! 31:06 missing 10:00 pace by 6 sec. Previous best was around 33 or 34 and last race was 38. So proud!!! Cuz hub PRed as well between us.

I think the best part was running without having to worry about extreme heat/humidity, nagging injury, or goal pace. Always love race days - the excitement, comeradery, and competition. This was a great cause, great location, good weather, and shared experience with family. Great way to do an "easy" 5k run on a Saturday morning!